September 13, 2016

SIU to observe Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a time to celebrate a diverse group of peoples and their cultures and promote inclusiveness.

The theme of this year’s festival, which begins on Wednesday, Sept. 14, is “Intersecciones – Building Bridges in the Face of Intolerance” and it includes poetry, dancing, discussion panels, a potluck and much more over a four-week period. Some events are informative while others are more social in nature, but all are free and open to the public.

“As the theme suggests, the emphasis this year is ‘intersectionality.’ We want to talk about the ways in which our experiences and accomplishments can help us better understand the histories and difficulties of other groups, and vice-versa,” Rene Francisco Poitevin, coordinator of the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center, said. “We want to celebrate our heritage, in its many permutations, while also making connections with what we share in common with other groups, highlighting that each heritage is also part of the social fabric of this country.”

The big kick-off for the month takes place on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Corker Lounge at the Student Center. This reception provides a chance for people to mingle and learn more about the month and planned activities.

David Romero and Matt Sedillo, both well-known spoken word artists, will be featured in the month’s keynote performance at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 in Grinnell Hall, Activity Room A. The poetry of Romero, a Mexican-American, has been published widely and he has appeared in media and on college campuses across the country. Sedillo, a Chicano and fellow “slam poet,” is also a published writer and has gained media attention and performed at festivals before thousands of people as well as at universities.

The Noche De Gala, a popular evening of salsa music and dancing, returns to the Student Center Ballrooms on Sept. 24. Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity sponsors this festive semi-formal event.

Black, Latino and LGTBQ students will share about the importance of intergroup dialogue and community building during the “Black, Brown and Queer Reflections” presentation at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 in Room 151 of Lawson Hall.

Other Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month highlights include “Si Se Puede! First Generation Academics and Professionals Speak” on Sept. 28 and “On Mexicans and Muslims -- Identity and the Quest for Belonging” on Oct. 6. The Sept. 28 event takes place at 5 p.m. in Grinnell Hall, Activity Room A, and will bring together first-generation academics and professionals to discuss their journeys through higher education.

The Oct. 6 event is a panel discussion at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. SIU Latino and Arab students will share their experiences regarding the current wave of anti-Latino and anti-Muslim sentiment and how it feels to be perceived every day as “the other.”

Numerous other activities are planned from Sept. 14 to Oct. 13. The full schedule is available online at

The Hispanic/Latino Resource Center, Black Resource Center, Colleges of Business and Liberal Arts, the Department of Music, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, the Hispanic Student Council, Ladies United Creating Change, and faculty members Jose Najar, Pamela Smoot and Roberto Barrios are among the sponsors and facilitators of Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month.